Published in 1984, Neuromancer is the first book in William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy. The book tells the story of a hot computer hacker named Case, who is crippled after double-crossing the wrong people and therefore losing access to the Matrix. Following that incident, Case lives in Chiba trying to forget his old life, until he meets a mysterious lady named Molly and an even more mysterious benefactor named Armitage. Case is returned to his old self following an operation paid for by Armitage, however, to ensure his cooperation in completing a dangerous job, Armitage implants poisonous sacs in Case, with the promise of them being removed once the job is complete.
As with most science fiction stories that involve hacking and protagonists who are “coerced” into a job, it inevitably becomes more complicated towards the end as the tension mounts and the mysteries are unravelled. There are several great concepts within Neuromancer, ones that are tropes of the genre by today’s standards, but at the time were relatively new. For example, the dangers of an artificial intelligence, extension of life and the difference between the physical world and the digital one.
William Gibson’s writing style is very easy to follow and does a good job of portraying the forts and emotions of case as well as the complexities of the story towards the end. Although there is some technological speak throughout the story as is generally the case with cyberspace focused Science Fiction stories, it never becomes too heavy for the reader and therefore doesn’t detract from the flow of the story.
Anyone interested in Cyberpunk and technology/computer based Science Fiction should definitely read this book. It’s one of the early progenitors of the cyberpunk genre and in turn had a massive impact on the development of the genre. I really enjoyed reading the book and picking out the ideas which have had a lasting impression on the genre, especially in relation to cyberspace.